Welcome to Curious Business

Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, June 14, 2013

We Built This City On Corn 'n' Taters

Back in March I wrote that the Corn-n-Tater microwave cooking bag was a potential game-changer because its creator wanted to funnel his online sales to Curio City. That led nowhere; in fact, I didn’t even get my stock until the middle of April and the supporting graphics came even later. Yesterday, even though I’d only sold nine out of my original 24 bags, I decided to replenish the one design that had sold and bring in a couple of new styles. My cellar is crammed with products that never sold nine pieces, and I still think the Corn-n-Tater bag promises to become a steady seller.

“Promise” is the right word. Yesterday I spent an hour on the phone working out the first steps toward becoming the manufacturer’s exclusive online retailer. I ordered 24 more bags outright and he’s sending 24 of his choosing on consignment. After tweaking some details of my presentation, he will redirect his “Buy Online” button to my product page, and I’ll welcome the eight to 12 retail orders that he receives on a typical day -- a nuisance to him that could conceivably double my annual sales (this week I had all of 16 sales with just one on Wednesday, two on Thursday, and none yet today). 

In August 25 million QVC shopping channel viewers and 85 million Rachel Ray viewers are going to see the Corn-n-Tater bag. If a big TV-driven surge joins with the Christmas frenzy that usually ramps up in October I might even have to transform the way I do business in ways that I can’t even imagine right now. That would be an interesting and unexpected problem to have. After bumping along in low gear for nearly eight years, I’ve resigned myself to Curio City staying in its rut forever. Being jolted into the fast lane overnight frightens me; I’m not afraid of success, but of sudden success. I have always assumed that I’d get there gradually, if at all. 

OTOH, with Panther Vision caps still in the doldrums, bird kites being seasonal, and annual sales down by double digits, this could be my lifeline. Ten sales a day would be easy enough to handle; the Corn-n-Tater bag is easy to ship. Anything over 20 would start to become a strain.

Of course, all that’s happened so far is selling nine out of 24 bags. My history is full of promises that didn’t pan out and nobody’s ever accused me of irrational exuberance.

It’s funny that this started at the Boston Gift Show, which regular readers know as the Cavalcade of Crap. It’s even funnier that the Corn-n-Tater guy considered the Boston show a waste of time and doesn’t plan to go back.

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